Questions TJA Students Ask: Why Does it Feel Like God Has Left Us - Like He's Hiding


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  1. Because we aren't seeking (Jeremiah 29:13; Quote; Matthew 2:1-6)
  2. Because we are in trouble (Psalm 10:1; Job 13:24; Psalm 13:1; Matthew 1:18-19)
  3. Because we doubt God's love (Romans 8:35,37; Psalm 139:7-12; Matthew 1:20)
  4. Because we forget what Immanuel means (Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 9:6; Matthew 1:23; Immanuel)
  5. Because we see imperfectly (John 1:14; John 20:29; Quote; Proverbs 4:18; 1 Corinthians 13:12; Blessing)

Jeremiah 29:13

13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.


John Owen

He withdraws himself in order to make us appreciate him more so that we diligently seek for him as we would seek for a lost precious treasure. We all too easily take Christ for granted and become lazy in seeking fellowship with him…By withdrawing himself he aims to awaken his people to search for him, and to mourn over their sin in taking him for granted…While we are busy with other things, Christ withdraws himself and we cannot find him. Yet even this discipline is for our recovery and sanctification. - The Glory of Christ, pp.109-112


Matthew 2:1-6

1 Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, 2 “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.” 3 King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem. 4 He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?” 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote: 6 ‘And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah, are not least among the ruling cities of Judah, for a ruler will come from you who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.’”


Psalm 10:1

1 O Lord, why do you stand so far away? Why do you hide when I am in trouble?


Job 13:24

24 Why do you turn away from me? Why do you treat me as your enemy?


Psalm 13:1

1 O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way?


Matthew 1:18-19

18 This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. 19 Joseph, to whom she was engaged, was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.


Romans 8:35,37

35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.


Psalm 139:7-12

7 I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! 8 If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there. 9 If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, 10 even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me. 11 I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night—12 but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you.


Matthew 1:20

20 As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit.


Isaiah 7:14

14 All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).


Isaiah 9:6

6 For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.


Matthew 1:23

23 “Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’”



Wonderful Counselor (1 Peter 5:7) "Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you."

Mighty God (John 16:33) "Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world."

Everlasting Father (2 Corinthians 6:18) "And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty."

Prince of Peace (John 14:27) "I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give."


John 1:14

14 So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.


John 20:29

29 Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”



For God to be fully present would be coercive; faith would be turned into sight and humankind could not but believe. For God to be loved by people for God’s own sake, without being forced into it, requires a measure of human autonomy. Too direct a divine presence would annul human existence as a flame kills a butterfly. God must set people at a certain distance from God; whatever the intensification of presence, there must an element of ambiguity. God’s presence cannot be obvious. - Terence Fretheim, The Suffering of God


Proverbs 4:18

18 The way of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, which shines ever brighter until the full light of day.


1 Corinthians 13:12

12 Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.


Blessing Upon Blessing

May God enter into all that confuses us and holds us in unrest and unknowing. May we be blessed with the willingness to remain with the confusion long enough to allow God to be revealed there. May this God who, at the beginning of time, brought beauty and order out of chaos and darkness, bring us to a deep calm and holy understanding of divine purpose. May we not fear the questions that press in upon us. May we live those questions with deep trust as we wait in patience for the answers to be revealed. May God keep our minds and hearts ever open to what is new, yet unknown; to what is hidden and unseen along life's journey. May the God of clarity and peace bless us always. - Adapted from Maxine Shonk